If you would have asked my 18-year-old self what my signature dish was, I would have probably responded by jokingly saying that I couldn't even make toast without burning it and that Kraft Mac-N-Cheese was my specialty. In all honesty, until a couple of years ago that was all I really knew how to cook.
Growing up, my parents took turns making dinner. As a child who was heavily involved in extracurricular activities, I was rarely around to get the traditionally anticipated cooking lesson that many little girls receive. My mom had quite a few delicious go-to's for dinner and my dad's specialty was mixing together whatever random ingredients we had in the fridge to create a surprisingly mouthwatering meal. As for me? I left for college without even knowing how to cut an apple (I'm not kidding).
It wasn't until I lived in an apartment on my own and could no longer rely on college dining halls as my source of energy that I came to the shocking realization: other than pasta and microwavable dinners, I literally did not know how to cook a single thing.
I am happy to report, however, that after a couple of years of trial and error, I have found one signature dish that I cook for everything: buffalo chicken. My special twist? I slice open a sweet potato, toss the buffalo chicken inside of it over some spinach, and sprinkle bleu cheese on top.
First time making dinner for my boyfriend? I made my buffalo chicken sweet potato. Girls over for "The Bachelorette finale"? I made my buffalo chicken sweet potato. Family potluck? I'll make buffalo chicken dip and bring a sweet potato for myself to throw under it. Ask my friends the first thing they think when I'm brought to their mind, buffalo chicken.
As a young adult, I am constantly attempting to find ways to brand and identify myself. Your late 20s and early 30s are truly just the time period where you are walking around blindly through the world trying to figure out who you are and how you fit in.
For women, we've all heard that every woman needs a few things: a signature scent, a signature red lipstick, and a signature designer bag. But we are here today to add one more thing to that list. Every woman needs a signature dish.
You'll see recipes in magazines all of the time about various celebrities and their signature dishes. For Eva Longoria it's stuffed avocados. For Kylie Jenner it's her ramen, garlic, butter, and egg combo. For John Legend it is fried chicken and mac and cheese and for Chrissy Teigen it is tahini and fettuccine noodle salad.
But it's not just celebrities. Without you ever realizing it, likely every adult woman you know has one signature meal that will always remind you of her. Maybe it's your mom's casserole, your grandma's apple pie, or your best friend's salmon. It is their go-to, their classic, and without you having put two and two together, it is likely their identity.
The most obvious reason as to why it is important to have a signature dish is simply the fact that it's easy. It is like your classic go-to little black dress - if you're short on time and want to look hot, you know EXACTLY what dress you're going to throw on. It is the same with a dish. If you're last minute invited to an evening at your boss' house and need to bring something to serve, you don't want to spend hours sorting through Pinterest and stressing in a grocery store before accidentally leaving it in the oven for too long or adding too much cheese. If you have one signature dish that you always cook, you'll have more time to focus on the other aspects of the evening, like what to wear or what to talk about.
Not only is it easy, it's fast. I've cooked buffalo chicken hundreds of times. I know exactly how long to leave the sweet potatoes in the oven, when to put the chicken on the stove, and where exactly all of the ingredients are located at my local grocery store. I don't need to fact check the recipe or be worried that I'll accidentally use a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon. I've perfected the dish, so it's a walk in the park to make.
In addition to how much simpler this dish makes my life, it also is a bonus for my friends' lives too. Once you have a signature dish, it'll be something that your friends crave. My mom has a classic family brownie recipe that her friends literally beg her to bring to events. They know, no matter what type of gathering, that they will get to look forward to that gooey, chocolatey deliciousness.
People love consistency. Have you ever noticed how stores like Target or Walmart are nearly identical everywhere? Regardless of if I visit a Target in North Carolina or a Target in California, I will be able to guess the store's layout, because it is exactly the same. Similarly, it is the reason why fast food joints and chain restaurants are so popular. As much as I'd love to branch out and try a hole-in-the-wall burger place, I know that if I head over to McDonalds, their Big Mac is going to taste exactly as I'm imagining it.
Your friends will feel the same way about your go-to dish. They will know that no matter what other random dishes are at the potluck you are attending together, that they can look forward to your Caprese salad or your reuben sandwiches because those babies never fail to delight.
Finally, by finding that signature dish for yourself, you will begin to ingrain your identity into those around you. It's the same a when we think of Kylie Jenner, we think of her lips or when we think of Julia Roberts, we think of her smile. We find signature scents and signature lip colors for ourselves so that we can create consistency and build our own brand. Why should this stop at beauty and fashion?
So start experimenting. Find that one dish that you absolutely love to eat and that you would love to share with the people you love. Trust us, they'll thank you for it.
SHARE this article with your friends so you can all start brainstorming what your signature dish should be!